HOLY THURSDAY LETTER TO THE CLERGY OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF IJEBU-ODE.

My dearly beloved Brother Priests,

‘How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me, the cup of salvation I will raise, I will call on the name of the Lord’ (Psalm 116: 12).

To the Eternal High Priest be all glory and honour for this holy and special day in which we celebrate the Institution of the Sacred Celibate Priesthood and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Though our Mass of Chrism and the Annual Renewal of our Priestly promises have been moved to a later date due to the lockdown which is part of the remedies put in place to curtail the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic; all the same, I still very much feel the fraternal bond of the priesthood connecting me to each one of you in your various towns and villages of pastoral assignment, as your shepherd and fellow collaborator in the work of God in our Local Church of Ijebu-Ode.

I have offered the Holy Eucharist for you and myself today to strengthen and renew our priestly commitment to Christ, the High Priest. Let us keep the fraternal bond of love stronger in our ministry since the Sacred Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus and we are always better and more fruitful when we abide in the love of Christ. I thank you all from the depth of my heart for your pastoral efforts, sacrifices and collaboration with me. Be assured that the Owner of the vineyard recognizes our efforts and will surely reward them. Amen.

As we mark today the institution of the Sacred Priesthood, it is fitting that I remind you that the ministerial priesthood is born, lives, works and bears fruit in the Eucharist. Meaning that the Holy Eucharist is the main source of strength for the ministry and sanctity of life. Yes, I know that we are all human and weak. We fall and bleed, and sometimes, we crash and breakdown or even, fall apart on account of sins we commit. In all such circumstances, let us always seek refuge in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and in Holy Eucharist, which we celebrate daily. On this special day, therefore, I would like to pray for all our strong, active and healthy brother Priests. Similarly and in profound solidarity, I pray also for all sick, weak, lukewarm and confused Priests in and outside the Diocese. May each one of us become faithful steward of the mysteries of God in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites of the Church. Amen.

My hope and prayer for all of you on this day, the first Holy Thursday that I celebrate as your Bishop is this: that you my brother Priests may be truly united with Christ the High Priest as you celebrate tonight the Mass of the Last Super with few people or none. May you not be distracted by the hardships of COVID-19 pandemic narratives; but allow the oblation of Christ Faithful that you offer today and always have sanctifying impact in your live and ministry. Amen. This is my prayer to you, my prayer for your favour. In your great love answer us, O God, with your help that never fails,

rescue us from sinking in the mud; save us from our foes. Save us from the waters of the deep lest the waves overwhelm us’ (Psalm 69,14-16)
I wish you all a very happy celebration of Christ Priesthood in which we all share as sacred ministers. I look forward to that joyful day very soon, when we shall be able to gather with the faithful in St. Sebastian Cathedral to celebrate our Chrism Mass and our Priesthood. Until then remain blessed in the Lord and please, “do keep safe”! I entrust you all to the maternal care of Mary, the unfailing support for Jesus in His earthly Priestly Ministry and the Star of Evangelization

With prayerful and personal best wish, I remain,

Yours fraternally in Christ,

Most Rev. Francis Obafemi ADESINA

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